1st Edition

Navigating the Engineering Organization A New Engineer's Guide

By Robert M. Santer Copyright 2023
    408 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    408 Pages 56 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Transitioning new engineers into professionals who can blend in and contribute to the technical organization is, at best, doubtful. Trained in the "nuts and bolts" of a technical subject, new engineers have little to no training on the "soft" skills of how to work within an organization. This robust guide shows new engineers how to quickly operate and succeed within their new engineering organization.

    Navigating the Engineering Organization: A New Engineer’s Guide

    focuses on the group behaviors of technical organizations. It provides a rigorous organizational framework to operate from and delivers guidance using a dual approach of academic insight and professional experience. Through numerous case studies, the book presents actual experiential guidance and offers a method on how to extend the insights covered in the book and turn them into a valuable personal model, valid throughout the engineer’s career. It helps readers understand quickly the unique values and expectations within their new engineering organization and guides them in discovering the proper ways to respond to these expectations. They can then act on these insights to deliver successful results, now and throughout their careers.

    The approach and goals found in this book provide a building block to help all new engineers cross the "Great Divide" from student to professional and succeed in their new engineering organization.

    1. Introduction: The Territory Ahead. 2. The Impending Problem: From Student to Engineering Professional. 3. Embracing a New Mindset. 4. Establishing the Essential Engineering Framework. 5. A Tour of the Inner Core. 6. Navigating the Formal Organization. 7. Understanding Human and Hard Resources. 8. Exercising the Technical System. 9. Searching for the Hidden Organization. 10. Ubiquitous Communication. 11. Final Preparations: Integration and Ethics. 12. Crafting the Roadmap: Creating Your Personal Guide. 13. Coming Attractions. 14. Some Final Thoughts.


    Robert M. Santer, Ph.D. has over 40 years of domestic and international industry experience in the aerospace and automotive fields as an engineering management professional and product analyst. His specific experience covers aerospace engineering, automotive design, product engineering, research, technology planning, innovation methodologies, organizational development and technology communication strategy. He has international automotive design and production experience in both Europe and Asia.

    Dr. Santer holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering (Engineering Management) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He also holds a Bachelor's in Aerospace Engineering and a Master's in Engineering Management, also from the University of Michigan.

    In addition to his industry role, Dr. Santer has taught the U-M College of Engineering graduate / senior level course in engineering organizations at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, covering the foundations of engineering organizational structure, operations and analysis.

    "For new engineering graduates, the transition to industry can be particularly challenging, as evidenced by the high turnover rates for new employees. Dr. Santer addresses the problem by helping the new engineer understand the world they are entering into and the rationale behind its structure and operational constructs. This book will also be useful for hiring managers, to better understand the scope of the challenge, as they guide their new employees through the onboarding process."

    The Honorable Dr. Donald C. Winter
    74th United States Secretary of the Navy

    "Every graduating engineering student needs to read Dr. Robert Santer’s new book before interviewing for potential job opportunities in the public and private sectors. It explores in depth the otherwise little-advertised company cultures, goals, objectives, operations, opportunities, and expectations. It was often my privilege to address many of Dr. Santer’s students about these issues within government-oriented organizations, including NASA, DOD, and their broad spectrum of space and aviation contractors."

    Col. Jack Robert Lousma USMC, Ret.
    Pilot, Skylab 3; Commander, Space Shuttle Columbia Flight STS-3
    CAPCOM, Apollo 13

    "This book is a must read for anyone transitioning from engineering school to the workplace."

    "Engineering is a wonderful choice of career, offering endless possibilities to innovate and create solutions for the benefit of society.  It offers the opportunity for a lifetime of learning, multi-disciplinary teamwork, personal development and a sense of accomplishment that only engineers will truly understand! But before getting to the fun stuff, how does a newly graduated engineer navigate the engineering organization? This may appear as a confusing and intimidating combination of formal and informal relationships, processes and procedures. Understanding ‘how work gets done’ is fundamental to getting a fast start in the workplace."  

    "With the benefit of his experiences working in both the academic and corporate world, Bob Santer shares deep insights of what it takes to navigate these complexities, evident in so many large multinational organizations. He walks the reader through those early experiences in a series of logically ordered chapters, each containing practical advice for the new recruit. The book is also a great read for those in leadership positions, as understanding the experience through the lens of a new hire can help accelerate the onboarding process and improve the overall productivity of the organization."

    Mr. Paul Mascarenas, OBE
    Chief Technical Officer, The Ford Motor Company (ret.)
    Past President, International Society of Automotive Engineers
    Venture Partner, Fontinalis Partners

    "Using theoretical analysis techniques and numerous case histories of individuals’ experiences, Santer helps readers bridge the substantial experiential gap from university to the workplace. His book offers the opportunity to start to understand engineering organisations and their culture and allows readers to develop their own personal route to achieve success."

    Vince Pizzoni CEng FIChemE

    Career coach, business mentor, and professor of chemical and environmental engineering at University of Nottingham.